Former FBI Director Comey Set to Testify on Russia Probe CSPAN June 8, 2017 10:00am-12:50pm EDT
call this hearing to order. director comey, i appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today. and more importantly for thank you for your dedicated service and leadership to the federal bureau of investigation. your appearance today speaks to the trust we have built over the years, and i'm looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. i'd like to remind my colleagues, that we will
reconvene in closed session at 1:00 p.m. today. and i ask that you reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. the director has been very gracious with his time, but the vice chairman and i have worked out a very specific timeline for his commitment to be on the hill. we'll do everything we can to meet that agreement. the senate select committee on intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the united states senate and the american people that the intelligence community is operating lawfully and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission, and keep america safe. part of our mission beyond the oversight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities, is to investigate russian interference in the 2016 u.s. elections. the committee's work continues. this hearing represents part of
that effort. allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several weeks. and today is your opportunity to set the record straight. yesterday, i read with interest your statement for the record. and i think it provides some helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. it clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions. actions you took following each conversation. and your state of mind. i very much appreciate your candor, i think it's helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible russian interference in the 2016 elections. your statement also provides texture and context to your interactions with the president from your vantage point and outlined a strained relationship. the american people need to hear your side of the story, just as they need to hear the president's descriptions of events. these interactions also highlight the importance of the
committee's ongoing investigation. our experienced staff is interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country's possession. we will establish the facts, separate from rampant speculation and lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. there are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement that i hope you'll clear up for the american people today. did the president's request for loyalty, your impression, that the one-on-one dinner of january 27th was, and i quote, at least in part an effort to create some sort of patronage relationship or his march 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of russian investigation in any way.
altar your approach into the investigation. in your opinion, did potential russian efforts to establish links with individuals in the trump orbit rise to the level we could define as collusion, or was it a counterintelligence concern. there's been a significant public speculation about your decision making related to the clinton e-mail investigation. why did you decide publicly to -- to publicly announce fbi's recommendations that the department of justice not pursue criminal charges? you have described it as a choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. the american people need to understand the facts behind your action. this committee is uniquely suited today investigate russia's interference in the
2016 elections. we have a unified bipartisan approach to what is a highly partisan issue. russian activities may have been aimed at one party's colleague but as my colleague senator rubio says frequently, in 2018 and 2020 it could be aimed at anyone at home or abroad. my colleague senator warner and i have worked to stay in lockstep on this investigation. we've had our differences. on approach, at times. but i've constantly stressed we need to be a team. i think senator warner agrees with me. we must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. it's too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. with that, i welcome you, director and i turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have. >> let me start by thanking all the members of the committee for the seriousness for which
they've taken on this task. mr. comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part of this committee's investigation into russia. i realize that this hearing has been obviously, the focus of a lot of washington in the last few days. the truth is, many americans who may be tuning in today probably haven't focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. so i'd like to briefly describe, at least from this senator's standpoint, what we already know, and what we're still investigating. to be clear, this investigation is not about relitigating the election. it's not about who won or lost. and it sure as heck is not about democrats versus republicans. we are here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home. plain and simple.
not by guns or missiles but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids, and a broad campaign of disinformation. all ultimately aimed at sowing chaos in our leadership and ultimately in ourselves. that's not just this senator's opinion. it's the unanimous determination of the entire u.s. intelligence community. so we must find out the full story. what the russians did and candidly as some other colleagues have mentioned, why they were so successful. and more importantly, we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy, and insure they can't do it again. the chairman mentioned elections
in 2018 and 2020. in virginia, we have elections this year in 2017. simply put, we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. mr. comey let me say at the outset, we haven't always agreed on every issue. in fact, i've occasionally questioned some of the actions you've taken. but i've never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. you've been a straight shooter with this committee. and have been willing to speak truth to power. even at the risk of your own career. which makes the way in which you are fired by the president ultimately shocking. recall we began this entire process with the president and his staff first denying that the russians were ever involved, and then falsely claiming that no
one from his team was ever in touch with any russians. we know that's just not the truth. numerous trump associates had undisclosed contacts with russians before and after the election. including the president's attorney general, his former national security advisor, and his current senior advisor, mr. kushner. that doesn't even begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisors who have also been caught up in this massive web. we saw mr. trump's campaign manager, mr. manafort forced to step down over ties to russian backed entities. the national security advisor, general flynn had to resign over his lies about engagements with the russians. and we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the russian dictator, while calling for the hacking of his opponent. there's a lot to investigate.
enough, in fact, then director comey publicly acknowledged he was leading an investigation into those links between mr. trump's campaign and the russian government. as the director of the fbi, mr. comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation. which might explain why you're sitting now as a private citizen. what we didn't know was that the same time this investigation was proceeding, the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence, or at least co-opthe director of the fbi. the testimony mr. comey has submitted for today's hearing is very disturbing. on january 27th after summoning director comey to dinner. the president appears to have threatened the director's job while telling him, quote, i need loyalty. i expect loyalty. at a later meeting, on february 14th, the president asked the attorney general to
leave the oval office so that he could privately ask director comey, again, quote, to see way clear to letting flynn go. that is a statement that director comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to general flynn's false statements. think about it. the president of the united states asking the fbi director to drop an ongoing investigation. and after that, the president called the fbi director on two additional occasions, march 30th and april 11th. and asked him, again, quote, to lift the cloud on the russian investigation. now, director comey denied each of these improper requests. the loyalty pledge, the adminition to drop the flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud, and the russian investigation. of course, after his refusals,
director comey was fired. the initial explanation for the firing didn't pass any smell tests. somehow director comey was fired because he didn't treat hillary clinton appropriately. of course, that explanation lasted about a day because the president himself then made very clear that he was thinking about russia when he decided to fire director comey. shockingly, reports suggest that the president admitted as much in an oval office meeting with the russians the day after director comey was fired. disparaging our country's top law enforcement official is a quote unquote, nut job. the president allegedly suggested his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about russia. this is not happening in isolation. at the same time the president
was engaged in these efforts with director comey he was also, at least allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the russian investigation or to intervene with the director. yesterday, we had dni director coats and nsa director admiral rogers who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those press reports. they expressed their opinions, but they did not take that opportunity to deny those reports. they did not take advantage of that opportunity. my belief, that's not how a president of the united states should behave. regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the russia links, director comey's firing and his testimony raised separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. again, as i said at the outset i've seen first-hand how seriously every member of this committee is taking his work. i'm proud of the committee's
efforts so far. let me be clear, this is not a witch-hunt. this is not fake news. it is an effort to protect our country from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away anytime soon. so, mr. comey, your testimony here today will help us move towards that goal. i look forward to that testimony, thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, vice chairman. director, as discussed when you agreed to appear before the committee. it would be under oath. i ask you to please stand, raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god. please be seated. director comey you're now under oath. and i would just note to members, you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes, and, again, it's the intent to move to a closed
session no later than 1:00 p.m. with that, director comey, you are recognized. you have the floor for as long as you might need. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member warner, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify today. i have submitted my statement for the record and i'm not going to repeat it here this morning. i thought i would offer brief introductory remarks and i would welcome your questions. when i was appointed fbi director in 2013, i understood that i served at the pleasure of the president. even though i was appointed to a ten year term, which congress created in order to underscore the importance of the fbi being outside of politics and independent, i understood that i could be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason at all. and on may 9th when i learned i had been fired for that reason i immediately came home as a private citizen. but then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused
me and increasingly concerned me. they confused me because the president that i had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me i was doing a great job and he hoped i would stay. and i had repeatedly assured him that i did intend to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term. he told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me. including our current attorney general. and had learned i was doing a great job. and that i was extremely well-liked by the fbi work force. so it confused me when i saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the russia investigation. and learned, again, from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the russian investigation. i was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly, that i was
fired because of the decisions i had made during the election year. that didn't make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions had
had to be made. that didn't make any sense to me. and although the law required no reason at all to fire an fbi director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi by saying that the organization was in disarray. that it was poorly led. that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies, plain and simple. and i am so sorry that the fbi workforce had to hear them and i'm so sorry the american people were told them. i worked every day at the fbi to help make that great organization better. as a help, because i did nothing alone at the fbi. there are no indispensable people at the fbi. the organization's great
strength is that its value and abilities run deep and wide. the fbi will be fine without me. the fbi's mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people and that mission is to protect the american people and uphold the constitution of the united states. i will deeply miss being part of that mission, but this organization and its mission will go on long beyond me and long beyond any particular administration. i have a message before i close for the -- for my former colleagues of the fbi. first i want the american people to know this truth. the fbi is honest. the fbi is strong. and the fbi is and always will be independent. and now to my former colleagues, if i may, i am so sorry i didn't get the chance to say good bye to you properly. it was the honor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the fbi family and i will miss it for the rest of my life.
thank you for standing watch, thank you for doing so much good for this country. do that good as long as ever you can. and senators, i look forward to your questions. >> director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and the written testimony that you provided to the committee yesterday and made public to the american people. the chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes, vice chair for 12 minutes based upon the agreement we have. director, did the special counsel's office review and/or edit your written testimony? >> no. >> do you have any doubt that russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election? >> none. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind the intrusions in the dnc and dccc systems and the subsequent leaks of that information? >> no, no doubt.
>> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files? >> no. >> do you have any doubt that officials of the russian government were fully aware of these activities? >> no doubt. >> are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered? >> i'm confident. when i left as director i had seen no indication of that whatever. >> director comey, did the president at any time ask you to stop the fbi investigation into russian involvement in the 2016 u.s. elections? >> not to my understanding, no. >> did any individual working for this administration, including the justice department, ask you to stop the russian investigation? >> no. >> director, when the president requested that you -- and i quote -- let flynn go, general
flynn had an unreported contact with the russians. which is an offense. and if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his fbi testimony. in your estimation, was general flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy? in addition to that, do you sense that the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way for mike flynn to save face, given he had already been fired? >> general flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. there was an open fbi criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the russian contacts. and the contacts themselves. and so that was my assessment at the time. i don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation i had with the president was an effort to obstruct. i took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning. but that's a conclusion i'm sure the special counsel will work
towards to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offense. >> director, is it possible that as part of this fbi investigation the fbi could find evidence of crimality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion, or coordination with russians? >> sure. >> so there could be something that just fits a criminal aspect to this that doesn't have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle? >> correct, in any complex investigation when you start turning over rocks sometimes you find things that are unrelate today the primary investigation that are criminal in nature. >> director, comey you have been you criticized publicly for your decision to present your findings on the e-mail investigation directly to the american people. have you learned anything since that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the american
people? >> honestly, no. it caused a whole lot of personal pain for me, but as i look back, given what i knew at the time and even what i've learned since i think it was the best way to try and protect the justice institution, including the fbi. >> in the public domain, is this question of the steel dossier a document that has been around now for over a year, i'm not sure when the fbi first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it. at the time of your departure from the fbi, was the fbi able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steel document? >> mr. chairman, i don't think that's a question i can answer in an open setting. it goes into the details of the investigation. >> director, the term we hear
most often is collusion. when people are describing possible links between americans and russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say that it's normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration? >> yes. >> at what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence or spies? >> difficult to say in the abstract. it depends on the context, whether there's an effort to keep it covert. what the nature of the request made to the american. it's a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts. >> at what point would that recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country? >> difficult to answer in the abstract. but when a foreign power is using -- especially coercion or
some sort of pressure to try to co-opt an american, especially a government official to act on its behalf that's a serious concern to the fbi and at the heart of the fbi's counterintelligence mission. >> if you've got a 36 page document of specific claims that are out there, the fbi would have to -- for counterintelligence reasons -- try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost, is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about blackmail? would that be an accurate statement? >> yes if the fbi receives a credible allegation there is some attempt to coerce an american on behalf of a foreign power that's the basis on which a case is open. >> when you read the dossier, what was your reaction given that it was 100% directed at the
president elect? >> not a question i can answer in an open setting, mr. chairman. >> okay. when did you become aware of the cyber intrusion? >> the first -- all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. the first russia connected cyber intrusion i became aware of in the late summer of 2015. >> and in that timeframe there were more than the dnc and dccc that were targets? >> correct, there was a massive effort to target government and non-governmental -- near governmental agencies like non-profits. >> what would be the estimate of how many entities out there the russians specifically targeted in that timeframe? >> it's hundreds, i suppose it could be more than a thousand. but it's at least hundreds. >> when did you become aware that data had been exfiltrated? >> i'm not sure exactly.
i think either late '15 or early '16. >> did you, the director of the fbi, have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed? >> yes. >> and share with us, if you will, what actions they took. >> well, the fbi had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims, and that's what we consider the entities that were attacked as part of this massive spear phishing campaign. we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing. and then there was a series of continuing interactions with entities through the rest of '15 into '16 and throughout '16 the administration was trying to decide how to respond to the intrusion activity it saw. >> the fbi in this case, unlike other cases you might investigate, did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked? or did you have to rely on a
third party to provide you the data they had collected? >> in the case of the dnc we did not have access to the devices themselves. we got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high class entity that had done the work. we didn't get direct access. >> no content? >> correct. >> isn't content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint? >> it is. although what was briefed to me by my folks, the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016. >> let me go back, if i can, very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the e-mail. was your decision influenced by
the attorney general's tarmac meeting with the former president, bill clinton? >> yes, in an ultimately conclusive way that's the thing that capped it for me that i had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation which meant both the fbi and the justice department. >> were there other things that contributed to that that you can describe in an open session? >> there were other things that contributed to that. one significant item i can't. i know the committee's been briefed on. there's been public accounts of it which are nonsense. but i understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. the only other consideration i can talk about in an open session, she told me to call it matter, which confused me and concerned me. but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude i have to step away from the department if we're to close this case credibly. >> director, my last question,
you're not only a seasoned prosecutor, you've led the fbi for years. you understand the investigative process. you've worked with this committee closely and we're grateful to you because i think we've mutually built trust in what your organization does and what we do. is there any doubt in your mind that this committee can carry out its oversight role in the 2016 russian involvement in the elections in parallel with the now special counsel that's been set up? >> no, no doubt. it can be done. it requires lots of conversations. bob mueller is one of these country's great pros and i'm sure you'll be able to work it out with him to run it in parallel. >> i want to thank you once again and i want to turn to the vice chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director comey, thank you for your service.
your comments to your fbi family, i know were heart felt. know that even though there are some in the administration who have tried to smear your reputation, you had acting director mccabe in public testimony a few weeks back and in public testimony yesterday, reaffirm that the vast majority of fbi community had great trust in your leadership. and, obviously, trust in your integrity. i want to go through a number of the meetings that you referenced in your testimony. and let's start with the january 6th meeting in trump tower. where you went up with a series of officials to brief the president elect on the russia investigation. my understanding is you remained afterwards to brief him on again, quote, some personally sensitive aspects of the information you relayed. now you said after that briefing, you felt compelled to document that conversation that
you actually started documenting as soon as you got into the car. now, you've had extensive experience at the department of
justice and at the fbi, you've worked on the president's of both parties, what was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record? >> a combination of things. i think the circumstances, the subject matter and the person i was interacting with. circumstances first, i was alone with the president of the united states. or the president elect, soon to be president. the subject matter, i was talking about matters that touch on the fbi's core responsibility and it related to the president elect personally. and then the nature of the person. i was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so i thought it important to document. that combination of things i had never experienced before but it led me to believe i got to riwre
it down in a very detailed way. >> i think that's a very important statement you just made. and my understanding is that then, again, unlike your dealings with presidents of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. did you feel you needed to create this written record of these memos because they might need to be relied on at some future date? >> sure. i created records after conversations -- i think i did it after each of our nine conversations, if i didn't, i did them for nearly all of them. especially the ones that were substantive. i knew there might come a day where i might need a record to defend not just myself but the fbi, and our integrity and the independent. that's what made it so difficult. it was a combination of circumstances, subject matter
and a particular person. >> this was the only president that you felt like in every meeting you need today document because at some point, using your words, he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting? >> that's right, senator. and i -- as i said in my written testimony. as fbi director i interacted with president obama and spoke only twice in three years and didn't document it. when i was deputy attorney general i had one one-on-one meeting with president bush about a national security matter. i didn't document that conversation either. i didn't feel with president bush the need to document it in that way. because of the combination of those factors, just wasn't present with either president bush or president obama. >> i think that's very significant. i think others will probably question that. now, our chairman and i have requested those memos. it's our hope that the fbi will get this committee access to
those memos. we can read that contemporaneous rendition so we've got your side of the story. i know members have said and press have said that if you were -- a great deal has been made whether the president -- whether you were asked whether the president was the subject of any investigation. my understanding is prior to your meeting on january 6th you discussed with your leadership team whether or not you should be prepared to assure then president elect trump that the fbi was not investigating him personally. now my understanding is your leadership team agreed with that. but was that a unanimous decision? was there any debate about that? >> wasn't unanimous. one of the members of the leadership team had a view that although it was technically true we did not have a counterintelligence file case open on then president elect trump. his concern was because we're
looking at the potential, again, that's the subject of the investigation, coordination between the campaign and russia because it was president trump, president elect trump's campaign, this person's view was inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope of that work and so he was reluctant to make the statement that i made. i disagreed. i thought it was fair to say what was literally true. there is not a counterintelligence investigation of mr. trump. and i decided in the moment to say it given the nature of our conversation. >> at that moment in time, did you ever revisit that in the subsequent sessions? >> with the fbi leadership team? sure. and the leader had that view, it didn't change. his view was still it was probably, although literally true, his concern was it could be misleading because the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch -- obviously it would touch the campaign and the person the head
of the campaign would be the candidate. that was his view throughout. >> let me move to the january 27th dinner where you said the president began by asking whether i wanted to stay on as fbi director. he indicated lots of people wanted the job. you go on to say that the dinner itself was seemingly an effort to quote, have you ask him for your job and create some sort of quote unquote, patronage relationship. the president seems from, my reading of your memo, to be holding your job or your possibility of continuing your job over your head in a fairly direct way. what was your impression and what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship? >> well, my impression, again, it's my impression, i could always be wrong. my commonsense told me that what was going on is either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn't -- you've
already asked comey to stay and you didn't get anything for it. and that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship -- in fact he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. as i said, what was odd about that we had already talked twice about it by that point and he'd said i hope you'll stay. in fact, i just remembered sitting here a third one, you've seen the picture of me walking across the blue room. and what the president whispered in my ear was i really look forward to working with you. >> that was just a few days before you were fired. >> that was on the sunday after the inauguration. the next friday i have dinner, and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job. and so i'm sitting there thinking, wait a minute, three times we've already -- you've asked me to stay or talked about me staying. i could be wrong, but my commonsense told me what's going on here is, he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my requests to stay in
the job. >> again, we all understand. i was a governor, i had people work for me. this constant requests, again, quoting you, him saying that he -- you explained your independence he came back to i need loyalty, i expect loyalty. have you ever had any of those kind of requests from anyone else you ever worked for in the government? >> no. what made me uneasy. i'm at that point the director of the fbi. the reason that congress created a ten year term is so that the director is not feeling as if they're serving at -- with political loyalty owed to any particular person. the statute of justice has a blindfold on because you're not supposed to be peeking out to see whether your patron is seeing what you're doing. it's about the law. that's why i became fbi director to be in that kind of position. that's why i was uneasy. >> let me move on. february 14th. it seems a bit strange, you were
in a meeting. and your direct superior, the attorney general, was in that meeting as well, yet the president asked everyone to leave, including the attorney general to leave before he brought up the matter of general flynn. what was your impression of that type of action? have you ever seen anything like that before? >> no. my impression was something big was about to happen. i need to remember every single word that is spoken. again, i could be wrong. i'm 56 years old, i've been -- seen a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving which is why he was lingering. i don't know mr. kushner well but i think he picked up on the same thing. i knew something was about to happen and i needed to pay close attention to. >> i found it very interesting that in the memo that you wrote after this february 14th pull aside, you made clear that you
wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. if you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the american people? >> well, i remember thinking this is a very disturbing development. really important to our work. i need to document it and preserve it in a way, this committee gets this, but sometimes when things are classified, it tangles them up. it's hard -- >> amen. >> -- to share it within an investigative team. you have to be careful how you handle it, for good reason. my thinking was if i write it in such a way that i don't include anything that would trigger classification. that would make it easier for us to discuss within the fbi and the government and to hold on to it in a way that makes it accessible to us. >> again, it's our hope, particularly since you pretty
knowledgeable guy and you wrote this in a way that was unclassified that this committee will get access to that unclassified document. i think it would be very important to our investigation. let me just ask this in closing, how many ongoing investigations at any time does the fbi have? >> tens of thousands. >> tens of thousands. did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation? >> no. >> did he ever ask about you trying to interfere on any other investigation? >> no. >> i think, again, this speaks volumes, this doesn't even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. i know other members will get to that. but i really appreciate your testimony and appreciate your service to our nation. >> thank you, senator warner. i'm sitting here going through my contacts. i had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our -- an
ongoing intelligence investigation, it was brief and entirely professional. >> he didn't ask you to take any specific action? >> no. >> unlike what he had done veez avy admiral flynn? >> no america needs more like you and we really appreciate it. yesterday i got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that's now a part of the record here. and the first -- i read it, then i read it again. and all i could think was number one, how much i hated the class of legal writing when i was in law school. you're the guy that probably got the a after reading this. so i find it clear, i find it concise. and having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling hundred, maybe thousands of cases and read police reports, investigative reports, this is as good as it gets. and i really appreciate that.
not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened and you actually put them in quotes. so we know exactly what happened and we're not getting some rendition of it that it's your mind. >> thank you. >> you're to be complimented. >> i had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me. >> that's obvious. the chairman walked you through a number of things that the american people need to know and want to know. number one, obviously, we all know about the active measures the russians have taken. i think a lot of people were surprised at this. those of us that work in the intelligence community didn't come as a surprise. now the american people know this and it's good they know this. because it's serious and it's a problem. secondly, i gather from all this that you're willing to say now that while you were director the president of the united states was not under investigation, is that a fair statement? >> that's correct. >> that's a fact we can rely on?
>> yes, sir. >> i remember you talked with us shortly after february 14th when "the new york times" wrote an article that suggested that the trump campaign was colluding with the russians. you remember reading that article when it came out? >> i do it was about extensive electronic surveillance. >> correct. that upset you to the point where you went out and surveyed the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something in that, is that correct? >> that's correct. i want to be careful in open setting -- >> i'm not going to go any further than that, so thank you. in addition to that, after that, you sought out, both republican and democrat senators to tell them that, hey, i don't know where this is coming from, but this is not the case. this is not factual. do you recall that? >> yes. >> okay. so, again, so the american people can understand this, that report by "the new york times" was not true, is that fair
statement? >> it was not true. again, all of you know this, maybe the american people don't. the challenge -- i'm not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information. that people talking about it often don't really know what's going on and those of us who actually know what's going on are not talking about it and we don't call the press to say, hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic, we just have to leave it there, mention the chairman and the nonsense about what influenced me to make the july 5th statement, nonsense. but i can't go explaining how it is nonsense. >> thank you. all right. so those three things we now know regarding the active measures with the president under investigation and the collusion between the russian and -- the trump campaign and the russians. i want to drill right down as my time is limited to the most recent dustup regarding allegations that the president of the united states obstructed justice. and you nailed this down on page
five, paragraph three, you put this in quotes, words mattematt you wrote down the words so we can have the words in front of us now. 28 words in quotes, it says, quote, i hope, this is the president speaking, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he's a good guy. i hope you can let this go. now, those are his exact words, is that correct? >> correct. >> you wrote them here and put them in quotes. >> correct. >> thank you for that. he did not direct you to let it go. >> not in his words, no. >> he did not order you to let it go. >> again, those words are not an order. >> he said i hope. now, like me you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases charging people with criminal offenses, and, of course, you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there that -- where people have been charged. do you know of any case where a person has been charged for
obstruction of justice or for that matter any other criminal offense where this -- they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. and the reason i keep saying his words is i took it as a direction. it is the president of the united states, with me alone, saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that, but that's the way i took it. >> you may have taken it as a direction, but that's not what he said. he said -- he said i hope. >> those are the exact words, correct. >> you don't know of anyone that has ever been charging for hoping something, is that a fair statement. >> i don't as i sit here. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. mr. comey, i just want you to know i have great respect for you. senator cornyn and i sit on the judiciary committee, so we have occasion to have you before us. and i know that you're a man of
strength and integrity. and i really regret the situation that we all find ourselves in. i just want to say that let me begin with one overarching question. why do you believe you were fired? >> i guess i don't know for sure. i believe -- i think the president at his word, i was fired because of the russian investigation, something about the way i was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve. again, i didn't know that at the time, but i watched his interview, read the press accounts of his conversations, so i take him at his word there. look, i could be wrong. maybe he's saying something that is not true, but i take him at his word, at least based on what i know now. >> talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty. and your response to that. and what impact you believe that
had. >> i don't know for sure. i don't know the president well enough to read him well. i think it was -- our relationship didn't get off to a great start given the conversation i had to have on january 6th. this was not -- this didn't improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward. he was asking for something and i was refusing to give it, but, again, i don't know him well enough to know how he reacted to that exactly. >> do you believe the russia investigation played a role? >> in why i was fired? >> yes. >> yes, because i've seen the president say so. >> let's go to the flynn issue. senator risch outlined, i hope you can see your way to letting flynn go, he's a good guy, i hope you can let this go. but you also said in your written remarks and i quote, that you had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of
flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the russian ambassador in december, end quote. please go into that with more detail. >> well, the context and the president's words are what led me to that conclusion, as i said in my statement, i could be wrong, but flynn had been forced to resign the day before. and the controversy around general flynn at that point in time was centered on whether he had lied to the vice president about the nature of his conversations with the russians, whether he had been candid with others in the course of that, and so that happens on the day before on the 14th the president makes specific reference to that, and so that's why i understood him to be saying what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to flynn's account of his conversations with the russians. >> now, here's the question. you're big, you're strong.
i know the oval office and i know what happens to people when they walk in. there is a certain amount of intimidation. but why didn't you stop and say, mr. president, this is wrong? i cannot discuss this with you. >> it is a great question. maybe if i were stronger i would have, i was so stunned by the conversation that i just took it in. and the only thing i could think to say, because i was playing in my mind, remember, every word he said was playing in my mind, what should my response be and that's why i very carefully chose the words. look, i've seen the tweet about tapes. i hope there are tapes. i remember saying i agree he's a good guy as a way of saying i'm not agreeing with what you asked me to do. maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. but that was -- that's how i conducted myself. i hope i never have another opportunity, maybe if i did it again, i would do it better.
>> you described two phone calls that you received from president trump. one on march 30, and one on april 11th, where he, quote, described the russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president and asked you, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. what -- how did you interpret that and what did you believe he wanted you to do. >> i interpreted that as he was frustrated that the russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy. i think he meant of the executive branch, but in the public square in general and making it difficult to focus on other priorities of his. what he asked me was actually narrower than that. i think what he meant by the cloud, i could be wrong, but what i think he meant by the cloud was the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me
to focus on the things i want to focus on. the ask was, to get it out that i, the president, am not personally under investigation. >> after april 11th, did he ask you more ever about the russia investigation? did he ask you any questions? >> we never spoke again after april 11th. >> you said you would see what we could do. what did you mean? >> that was a slightly cowardly way to avoid telling him we're not going to do that, that i would see what we could do, a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and then turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general mr. benty. >> i wanted to go into that. who did you talk with about that, lifting the cloud, stopping the investigation, back at the fbi and what was their
response? >> the fbi, during one of the two conversations, not remembering exactly, i think the first, my chief of staff was actually sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversation because the president's call was a surprise. and i discussed the lifting of the cloud in the request with the senior leadership team, who in typically, i think in all of these circumstances was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director's chief counsel, and i think in a number of circumstances the number three in the fbi, and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. that group of us that lead the fbi when it comes to national security. >> okay. you have the president of the united states asking you to stop an investigation that is an important investigation. what was the response of your colleagues? >> i think they were as shocked and troubled by it as i was.
some said things that led me to believe that, i don't remember exactly, but the reaction was similar to mine, all experienced people who had never experienced such a thing. so they were very concerned. and then the conversation turned to about so what should we do with this information? and that was a struggle for us. because we are the leaders of the fbi, so it has been reported to us and that i heard it and now i shared it with the leaders of the fbi, our conversation was should we share this with any senior officials of the justice department. absolute primary concern was we can't infect the investigative team. don't want the agents and analysts working on this to know the president of the united states as asked, and when it comes to the president, i took it as a direction, to get rid of this investigation because we're not going to follow that. that request. and so we decided we got to keep it way from our troops, but is there anybody else we ought to tell the justice department. as i laid out in my statement,
we considered whether to tell the attorney general decided that didn't make sense because we believed, rightly, he was shortly going to recuse, there were no other senate confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. the deputy attorney general was mr. benty, who was acting, going to be shortly in that seat, and we decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it, as we had already done, and in this investigation is going to go on, figure out what to do with it down the road. is there a way to corroborate this. at the time, it is was your word against the president, no way to corroborate this. my view of that changed when the prospect of tapes was raised, but that's how we thought about it then. >> thank you. thank you. >> senator rubio. >> thank you. director comey, the meeting in the oval office where he made the request about mike flynn, was that the only time he asked you to hopefully let it go? >> yes. >> and in that meeting as you understood it, that was -- he was asking not about the general russia investigation, he was asking very specifically about
the jeopardy that flynn was in himself. >> that's how i understood it, yes, sir. >> as you perceived it, while he was a request that you hoped you would do away with it, you perceived it as an order? >> yes. >> at the time did you say anything to the president about that, that's not an appropriate request or tell the white house counsel that is not an appropriate request, someone needs to tell the president that he can't do these things? >> i didn't, no. >> okay. why? >> i don't know. i think the -- as i said earlier, i think the circumstances were such, i was a bit stunned and didn't have the presence of mind and i don't know, i don't want to make you sound like i'm captain courageous, i don't know whether if i had the presence of mind, i would have said, sir, that's wrong. i don't know whether i would have. in the moment, it didn't come to my mind, what came to my mind is be careful what you say and so i said, i agree flynn is a good guy. >> on the cloud, we keep talking about this cloud, you perceive the cloud to be the russian investigation in general. >> yes, sir.
>> but his specific ask was that you would tell the american people what you had already told him, what you had already told the leaders of congress, both democrats and republicans, that he was not personally under investigation. >> yes, sir. >> he was asking you to do what you have done here today? >> correct, yes, sir. >> okay. and, again, at that setting, did you say to the president, that it would be inappropriate for you to do so and talk to the white house counsel or anybody so they would hopefully talk to him and tell him he couldn't do this? >> first time i said i'll see what we can do, second time, i explained how it should work that the white house counsel should contact the deputy attorney general. >> you told him -- >> the president said, okay, i think that's what i'll do. >> to be clear, for you to make a public statement he was not under investigation would not have been illegal, but you felt that it made no sense because it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed. >> yes, sir. we wrestled with it before my testimony, where i confirmed that there was an investigation, and there were two primary concerns. one was it creates a duty to
correct, which i lived before, and you want to be very careful about doing that, and second, it is a slippery slope because if we say the president, and the vice president aren't under investigation, what is the principled basis for stopping. and so the leadership at justice acting attorney general benty said you're not going to do that. >> on march 30th, during the phone call about general flynn, you said he abruptly shifted and brought up something that you call quote/unquote the mccabe thing, specifically the mccabe thing as you understood it was that mccabe's wife received campaign money from what i assume mean terry mcauliffe? >> yes, sir. >> very close to the clintons. and so why did you -- had the president at any point in time expressed to you concern, opposition, potential opposition to mccabe, i don't like this guy, he got money from someone close to clinton. >> he asked me during previous conversations about andy mccabe. and said in essence how is he going to be with me as president. i was rough on him on the
campaign trail. >> rough on mccabe? >> by his own account, he said he was rough on mccabe and mrs. mccabe on the campaign trail, how is he going to be? i assured the president andy is a total pro, no issue at all, you got to note people at the fbi, they are not -- >> the president turns to you and says, remember, i never brought up the mccabe thing, because you said he was a good guy, did you perceive that to be a statement that i took care of you, i didn't do something because you told me he was a good guy, so now, you know, i'm asking you potentially for something in return? is that how you perceived it? >> i didn't know what to make of it, honestly. that's possible, but it was so out of context, i didn't have a clear view of what it was. >> on a number of occasions here, you bring up -- let's talk about the general russia investigation, okay. and page six of your testimony you say, the first thing you say is he asked what we could do to quote/unquote lift the cloud, the general russia investigation and you responded that we were investigating the matter as
quickly as we could and that there would be great benefit if we didn't find anything to having done the work well and he agreed. he re-emphasized the problems it was causing him but agreed. the president agreed with your statement it would be great if we could have an investigation all the facts came out, and we found nothing. so he agreed that would be ideal, but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda, is that an accurate assessment? >> yes, he went further than that. he said if some of my satellites did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. >> that's the second part. that is the satellites. he said if one of my satellites, i imagine by that he meant some of the other people surrounding his campaign did something wrong, it would be great to know that as well. >> yes, sir, that's what he said. >> are those the other -- only two instances in which that sort of back and forth happened where the president was basically saying, i'm paraphrasing here, it is okay, do the russia investigation, i hope it all comes out, i have nothing to do with anything russia, and it would be great if all came out, if people around me were doing things that were wrong. >> yes, as i recorded it
accurately, that was the sentiment he was expressing. >> when it comes down to, the president is asked three things of you, for your loyalty, you said you would be loyally honest. >> honestly loyal. >> honestly loyal. the -- he asked you on one occasion to let the mike flynn thing go because he was a good guy. you're aware he said the exact same thing in the press the next day, he's a good guy, treated unfairly, i imagine your fbi agents read that. >> i'm sure they did. >> the president's wishes were known to them, certainly by the next day when he had a press conference, the prime minister. going back, threae three reques were, number one, be loyal, number two, let the mike flynn thing go, he's a good guy, treated unfairly, and number three, can you please tell the american people what these leaders in congress already know, what you already know, you told me three times, that i'm not under personally under investigation. >> those are the three things he asked, yes, sir. >> this investigation is full of
leaks, left and right. we learned more from the newspapers sometimes than we do from our open hearings for sure. ever wonder why of all the things in this investigation the only thing that has never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation? despite the fact that both democrats and republicans and the leadership of congress knew that and have known that for weeks? >> i don't know. i find matters that are briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held in my experience. >> finally, who are those senior leaders at the fbi that you share these conversations with? >> as i said in response to senator feinstein's question, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, deputy directors, chief counsel, and then more often than not the number three person at the fbi, the associate deputy director, and then quite often head of the national security branch. >> senator wyden. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, welcome. you and i have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting
americans' access to secure encryption. i believe the timing of your firing stinks. and yesterday you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong. now, to my questions. in talking to senator warner about this dinner that you had with the president, i believe january 27th, all in one dinner the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty, and denied allegations against him. all took place over one supper. now, you told senator warner that the president was looking to, quote, get something. looking back, did that dinner suggest that your job might be
contingent on how you handled the investigation? >> i don't know that i would go that far. i got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt i -- excuse me, how he felt i conducted myself and whether i demonstrated loyalty. but i don't know whether i would go so far as to connect it to the investigation. >> you said the president was trying to create some sort of patronage relationship. in a patronage relationship, isn't the underling expected to behave in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss? >> yes. at least consider how what you're doing will affect the boss as a significant consideration. >> let me turn to the attorney general. in your statement, you said that you and the fbi leadership team decided not to discuss the president's actions with attorney general sessions. even though he had not recused
himself. what was it about the attorney general's own interactions with the russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the fbi to make this decision? >> our judgment as i recall was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons, we also were aware of facts that i can't discuss in an open setting, that would make his continued engagement in a russia related investigation problematic and so we were -- we were convinced and in fact, i think we had already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with russia related matters much longer. that turned out to be the case. >> how would you characterize attorney general sessions adherence to his recusal? in particular with regard to his involvement in your firing which
the president has acknowledged was because of the russian investigation. >> that's a question i can't answer, i think it is a reasonable question. if as the president said i was fired because of the russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain. i don't know. so i don't have an answer for the question. >> your testimony was that the president's request about flynn could infect the investigation. had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the affect on the investigation? >> we would have closed any investigation of general flynn in connection with his statements and encounters -- statements and encounters with russians in the late part of december. so we would have dropped an open criminal investigation.
>> so in effect when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the american people to get the facts? >> correct. and as good as our people are, our judgment was we don't want them hearing that the president of the united states wants this to go away. because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair and impartial and aggressive. >> now, the acting attorney general yates found out that michael flynn could be blackmailed by the russians. and she went immediately to warn the white house. flynn is gone. but other individuals with contacts, with the russians, are still in extremely important positions of power. should the american people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them? >> i think all i can say, senator, is it is a -- the
special counsel's investigation is very important to understanding what efforts there were or are by the russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the fbi's mission. so -- you got the right person involved, bob mueller, to lead it. it is an important piece of work. >> vice president pence was the head of the transition. to your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about michael flynn prior to or during general flynn's tenure as national security adviser? >> i don't -- you're asking including up to the time when flynn was forced to resign, my understanding is he was. and i'm trying to remember where i get that understanding from. i think from acting attorney general yates. >> so former acting attorney general yates testified that concerns about general flynn
were discussed with the intelligence community. would that have included anyone at the cia or dan coats' office, the dni? >> i would assume yes. >> michael flynn resigned four days after attorney general sessions was sworn in. do you know if the attorney general was aware of the concerns about michael flynn during that period? >> i don't, as i sit here, i don't recall that he was. i could be wrong. i don't remember that he was. >> and finally, let's see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. besides the letters and attorney general, the deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or have been involved in the firing.
>> i don't. i don't. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator collins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, let me begin by thanking you for your volunteer compliance with our request to appear before this committee and assist us in this very important investigation i want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, the three conversations in which you told him that he was not under investigation the first during the january 6th meeting according to your testimony in which it appears you actually volunteered that assurance, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> did you limit that statement to counterintelligence investigations or were you talking about any
kind of fbi investigation? >> i didn't use the term
counterintelligence. i was speaking to him and briefing him about some salacious and unverified material. it was in a context of that that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true, and my reading of it was, it was important for me to assure him we were not personally investigating him, and so the context then was actually narrower, focused on what i just talked to him about but very important because it was first true and second i was very, very much about being in kind of a -- kind of a jay edgar hoover type situation. i didn't want him thinking i was briefing him on this, to sort of hang it over him in some way, i was briefing
him on it because we had been told by the media it was about to launch, we don't want to be keeping that from him, and if there was -- he needed to know this was being said. but i was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him, and so that's the context in which i said, sir, we're not personally
investigating you. >> and then on -- and that's why you volunteered the information. then on the january 27th dinner, you told the president that he should be careful about asking you to investigate because, quote, you might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, which we weren't. were you limiting that statement to counterintelligence investigations or more broadly such as a criminal investigation? >> the context was similar, i didn't modify the word investigation. again, he was reacting strongly against that unverified material saying i'm tempting you to order to investigate it and i said you want to be careful about that because it might create a narrative that we're investigating you personally. >> then there was the march 30th phone call and with the president in which you reminded
him that congressional leaders have been briefed, that we were not personally, the fbi was not personally investigating president trump. and, again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the president limited to counterintelligence investigations or was it a broader statement? i'm trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the president under way. >> no. i'm sorry, if i misunderstood, i apologize. we briefed the congressional leadership about what americans we had opened counterintelligence investigation cases on, and we specifically said the president is not one of those americans. but that -- there was no other investigation of the president that we were not mentioning at that time. the context was counterintelligence. i wasn't trying to hide a
criminal investigation. >> was the president under investigation at the time of your dismissal on may 9th? >> no. >> i'd like to now turn to the conversations with the president about michael flynn, which have been discussed at great length. and, first, let me make very clear that the president never should have cleared the room, and he never should have asked you, as you reported, to let it go, to let the investigation go. but i remain puzzled by your response. your response was i agree that michael flynn is a good guy. you could have said, mr. president, this meeting is inappropriate, this response could compromise the investigation. you should not be making such a request. it is fundamental to the operation of our government, that the fbi be insulated from
this kind of political pressure. and you've talked a bit today about that you were stunned by the president making the request. but my question to you is later on, upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the department of justice and ask them to call the white house counsel's office and explain that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role, vis-a-vis the fbi? >> in general, i did. i spoke to the attorney general, and i spoke to the new deputy attorney general mr. rosenstein when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the fbi. and i specifically as i said in my opinion, i asked the attorney general, it can't happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me.
in the room, and -- but why didn't we raise the specific -- it was an investigative interest to us to try to figure out what just happened with the president's request so i would not have wanted to alert the white house that it had happened until we figured out what are we going to do with this investigatively. >> your testimony was that you went to attorney general sessions and said, don't ever leave me alone with him again. are you saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go, with regard to part of the investigation of michael flynn in. >> no, i specifically did not. i did not. >> you mentioned that from your very first meeting with the president, you decided to write a memo, memorializing the conversation. what was it about that very first meeting that made you write a memo when you had not
done that with two previous presidents? >> as i said, a combination of things, a gut feeling is an important overlay on it, but the circumstances that i was alone, the subject matter, and the nature of the person that i was interacting with and my read of that person. and, yeah, and really just a gut feel laying on top of all of that, that this is going to be important to protect this organization that i make records of this. >> and finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice? >> yes. >> and to whom did you show copys? >> i asked president tweeted on friday after i got fired that i better hope there is not tapes. i woke up in the middle of the night on monday night, because it didn't dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation, might be a tape,
my judgment was i needed to get that out into the public square and so i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but asked him to, because i thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. i asked a close friend of mine to do that. >> was that mr. wittous? >> no. >> who was that? >> a good friend of mine, professor at column abobia law school. >> thank you. >> senator heinrich. >> mr. comey, prior to january 27th of this year, have you ever had a one on one meeting or a private dinner with a president of the united states? >> no. dinner, no, i had two one on ones with president obama i laid out in my testimony, one to talk about law enforcement issues, law enforcement and race, an important topic throughout for me, and for the president, and then once very briefly for him to say good-bye. >> were those brief
interactions? >> no. the one about law enforcement and race, we spoke for probably over an hour, just the two of us. >> how unusual is it to have a one on one dinner with the president? did that strike you as odd? >> yeah, so much so that i assumed there would be others that he couldn't possibly be having dinner with me alone. >> if -- do you have an impression that if you had found -- if you behaved differently in that dinner, and i'm quite pleased you did not, but if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, do you think you would have still been fired? >> i don't know. it is impossible to say looking
back. i don't know. >> but you felt like those two things were directly relevant to your -- the kind of relationship that the president was seeking to establish with you? >> sure, yes. >> the president has repeatedly talked about the russian investigation into the u.s. -- the russia involvement in the u.s. election cycle as a hoax and as fake news. can you talk a little bit about what you saw as fbi director and obviously only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was, and why there was an investigation in the first place. >> yes, sir. the -- there should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. the russians interfered in our election during 2016 cycle. they did it with purpose. they did it with sophistication. they did it with overwhelming
technical efforts. and it was an active measure campaign driven from the top of the government. there is no fuzz on that. it is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence, it is not a close call. that happened. that's about as unfake as you can possibly get and is very, very serious, which is why it is so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. because this is about america, not about any particular party. >> so that was a hostile act by the russian government against this country? >> yes, sir. >> did the president in any of those interactions that you have shared with us today asked you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect america against russian interference in our election system? >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> never. >> no. >> do you find it odd. >> not with president trump, who
attended a fair number of meetings on that with president obama. >> do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned about by russia's actions in our election? >> i can't answer that because i don't know what other conversations he had with other advisers or other intelligence community leaders. so i just don't know sitting here. >> did you have any interactions with the president that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously? >> i don't remember any interactions with the president other than the initial briefing on january 6th, i don't remember -- could be wrong, but i don't remember any conversations with him at all about that. >> as you're very aware, it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner, you told us the president asked you to back off the flynn investigation, the president told a reporter -- >> not in that dinner. >> fair enough. >> told a reporter he never did
that. you testified that the president asked for your loyalty in that dinner. the white house denies that. a lot of this comes down to who should we believe. do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you? >> my mother raised me not to say things like this about myself, so i'm not going to. i think people should look at the whole body of my testimony, because as i used to say to juries, i talked about a witness, you can't cherry pick, i like these things he said, but on this, he's a dirty rotten liar, got to take it all together and i tried to be open and fair and transparent and accurate. a really significant fact to me is so why did he kick everybody out of the oval office? why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? and so that to me is as an
investigator is a very significant fact. >> and as we look at testimony or communication from both of you, we should probably be looking for consistency. >> well, looking at any witness you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing. >> thank you. so there are reports that the incoming trump administration either during the transition and/or after the inauguration attempted to set up a sort of back door communication channel with the russian government using their infrastructure, their devices, facilities. what would be the risks, particularly for a transition, someone not actually in the office of the president yet to setting up unauthorized channels with a hostile foreign government, especially if they were to evade our own american intelligence services. >> i'm not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting, the risk is primary risk is obvious, spare the russians the cost and effort of
having to break into our communications channels by using theirs. and so you make it a whole lot easier to capture all of the conversations and to use those to the benefit of russia against the united states. >> the mimos that you wrote, you wrote -- did you write all nine them in a way that was designed to prevent them from needing classification? >> no. and on a few of the occasions i wrote -- i sent e-mails to my chief of staff or others on some of the brief phone conversations that i recall, the first one was a classified briefing, it wasn't in a skiff, in a conversation room at trump tower, it was a classified briefing and so i wrote that on a classified device. the one i started typing in the car that was a classified laptop that i started working on. >> any reason in a classified environment, in a skiff, that this committee would -- it would not be appropriate to see those communications from -- at least
from your perspective as the author? >> no. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator blunt? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, when you were terminated at the fbi, i said and still continue to feel that you have provided years of great service to the country. i also said that i had significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions you made. if the president hadn't terminated your service, would you still be in your opinion the director of the fbi today? >> yes, sir. >> so you took as a direction from the president something that you thought was serious and troublesome, but tcontinued to show up for work the next day? >> yes, sir. >> six weeks later we're still telling the president on march 30th that he was not personally the target of any investigation. >> correct, on march 30th, i
think again on -- i think on april 11th as well, i told him we're in the investigating him personally, that was true. >> well, the point to me, the concern to me there is that all these things are going on, you now in retrospect or at least you now -- this committee, these were -- you had serious concerns about what the president had you believed directed you to do, and had taken no action, hadn't even reported up the chain of command, assuming you believe there is an up the chain of command that these things had happened. do you have a sense of that look back, that that was a mistake? >> no, in fact, i think no action was the most important thing i could do to make sure there was no interference with the investigation. >> and on the flynn issue specifically, i believe you said earlier that you believe the president was suggesting you drop any investigation of flynn's account of his conversation with the russian ambassador.
this was essentially misleading the vice president and others. >> correct. and i'm not going into the details, but whether there were false statements made to government investigators as well. >> the -- any suggestion that the -- that general flynn had violated the logan act, i always find pretty incredible, the logan act has been on the books for over 200 years. nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the logan act. my sense would be that the discussion, not the problem, misleading investigators or the vice president might have been. >> that's fair, yes, sir. >> and in your -- had you previously on february 14th discussed what the president and the previous meeting anything your investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to flynn? >> no, sir. >> so he said he's a good guy, you said he's a good guy, and that was no further action taken on that.
>> he said more than that, but no -- the action was wrote it up, briefed our senior team, tried to figure out what to do with it and made a decision, we're going to hold this and see what we make of it down the road. >> was it your view that not briefing up meant you really had no responsibility to report that to the justice department in some way? >> i think at some point, and i don't know what director muller is going to do with it, but at some point i was sure we were going to brief it to the team in charge of the case. our judgment was in the short-term, doesn't make sense to -- no fuzz on the fact i reported it to the attorney general, he shouldn't be kicked out of the room, but didn't make sense to report to him now. >> you said the attorney general said i don't want to be in the room with him alone again, but you continue to talk to him on the phone. what is the difference in being in the room alone with him and talking to him on the phone alone. >> i think what i stressed the attorney general, a little broader than just the room. i said you -- i report to you, it is very important you be between me and the white house.
>> after that discussion with the attorney general, did you take phone calls from the president. >> yes, sir. >> why did you just say you need to talk to -- why didn't you say i'm not taking that call you need to talk to the attorney general. >> well, i did on the april 11th call. and a reported the calls, the march 30th call and the april 11th call, to my superior who was the acting deputy attorney general. >> i don't want to run out of time here. let me make one other point, in reading your testimony, january 3rd, january 27th, and march 30th, it appears to me on all three of those occasions you unsolicited by the president made the point to him that he was not a target of an investigation. >> correct, yes, sir. >> one, i thought the march 30th very interesting, you said, well, even though you don't want -- you may not want to -- 27th, where he said, why don't you look into that dossier thing more, you said, well, you may not want that because then we
couldn't tell you -- couldn't say with -- couldn't answer the question about you being a target of the investigation but you didn't seem to be answering that question anyhow, senator rubio pointed out the one unanswered, unleaked question seems to be that in the whole period of time. you said something earlier, i don't want to fail to follow up on, you said after you were dismissed, you gave information to a friend so that friend could get that information into the public media. >> correct. >> what kind of information was that? what kind of information did you give to a friend? >> that the -- that the flynn conversation, that the president asked me to let the flynn -- forgetting my exact own words, but the conversation in the oval office. >> so you didn't consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document, you considered it to be somehow your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted to? >> correct.
>> through a friend. >> i understand this to be my recollection, recorded, of my conversation with the president, as a private citizen, i felt free to share that, i felt it very important to get it out. >> so were all of your memos that you recorded on classified or other documents memos that might be yours as a private citizen? >> i'm sorry, i'm not following the question. >> i think you said you would use classified -- >> not the classified documents, unclassified -- i don't have any of them anymore, i gave them to the special counsel, but my view was that the content of those unclassified memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded. >> why didn't you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party? >> because i was worried the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point and i was going out of town with my wife to hide, and i worried it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach, if i was i who gave it to the media. i said, make sure this gets out.
>> it seems like you create a source -- as opposed to taking responsibility yourself for saying here are these records, and like everybody else i have other things i would like to get into, but i'm out of time. >> okay. >> senator cane. >> i would like to recognize senator blumenthal and earlier senator nelson. one principle thing you'll learn is the chair there is less comfortable than the chair here. welcome to the hearing. mr. comey, a broad question. was the russian activity in the 2016 election a one off proposition or is this part of a long-term strategy? will they be back? >> it is a long term practice of theirs. it stepped up a notch in a significant way in '16. they'll be back. >> i think that's very important for the american people to understand that this is this is very much a forward looking investigation in terms of how do
we understand what they did and how do we prevent it, would you agree that's a big part of our role here? >> yes, sir. and it is not a republican thing or democratic thing, it really is an american thing. they're going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of, and they're not devoted to either in my experience, just about their own advantage and they will be back. >> that's my observation. i don't think putin is a republican or a democrat. he's an opportunist. >> i think that's a fair statement. >> with regard to the -- several of conversations, in the interview with lester holt on nbc, the president said i had dinner with him, he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. is this an accurate statement? >> no, sir. >> did you in any way initiate that dinner? >> no. he called me at my desk at lunch time and asked me was i free for dinner that night, called himself and said can you come over for dinner tonight? i said, yes, sir, he said, will
6:00 would, 6:00 first, i was going to invite your whole family, i'll do that next time, i want you to come over. is that a good time. i said whatever works for you. he said how about 6:30, whatever works for you, sir. i hung up and i called my wife and had to break a date with her. i was supposed to take her to dinner that night -- >> that's an all time great excuse. >> i love spending time with my wife. i wish i would have been there that night. >> that's one question i'm in the going to follow up. but in that same interview, the president said in one case i called him and in one case he called me. is that an accurate statement? >> no. >> did you ever call the president? >> no. i might -- the reason i'm hesitating is i think there was one conversation where i was asked to call the white house switch board to be connected to him. but i never initiated a communication with the president. >> and in his press conference on may 18th, the president was
asked whether he urged you to shut down the investigation to michael flynn. the president responded, quote, no, no. next question. is that an accurate statement? >> i don't believe it is. >> thank you. with regard to the question of him being under personally under investigation, does that mean that the dossier is not being reviewed or investigated or followed up on in any way? >> obviously can't come -- can't comment either way, can't talk in an open setting about the investigation as it was when i was the head of the fbi. and obviously it is director muller's responsibility now. so i just don't know. >> so clearly your statements to the president back in those -- the various times when you assured him he wasn't investigation were as of that moment, is that correct? >> correct. >> now on the flynn investigation, is it not true that mr. flynn was and is a central figure in this entire investigation of the relationship between the trump campaign and the russians?
>> i can't answer that in an open setting, sir. >> and certainly mr. flynn was part of the so-called russia investigation, can you answer that question? >> i have to give you the same answer. >> all right. we'll be having a closed session shortly, we'll follow up on that. in terms of his comments to you about -- i think in response to mr. risch, senator risch, you said he said i hope you will hold back on that, but when you get a -- when a president of the united states in the oval office says something like i hope or i suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive? >> yes. yes, it rings in my ear as will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest. >> i was just going to quote that, henry ii, who will rid me of this meddlesome priest and the next day he was killed. we're thinking along the same
lines. several other questions and these are a little bit pour detailed. what do you know about the russian bang veb? >> nothing that i can talk about in an open setting. >> that takes care of my next three questions. you know it exists. what is the relationship of ambassador -- the ambassador from russia to the united states to the russian intelligence infrastructure? >> he's a diplomat. who is the chief of mission at the russian embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers, and so surely he's witting of their very, very aggressive intelligence operations, at least some of it in the united states. i don't consider him to be an intelligence officer himself, he's a diplomat. >> did you ever -- did the fbi ever brief the trump administration about the
advisability of interacting directly with ambassador kisliak. back to mr. flynn, would closing out the flynn investigation have impeded the overall russia investigation? >> no. unlikely except to the extent -- there is always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and you bring it and squeeze them, you flip them and they give you the information about something else. but i saw the two as touching each other, but separate. >> with regard to your memos, isn't it true that in a court case when you're weighing evidence, contemporaneous mimos and statements to third parties are considered probative in terms of the validity of
testimony? >> yes. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator lankford. >> director comey, good to see you again. we had multiple opportunities to visit as everyone on the dais has. i appreciate you and your service and what you've done for the nation for a long time, what you continue to do, i told you before, in the heat of last year, we had the opportunity to visit personally, i pray for you and your family because you do carry a tremendous amount of stress and that's still true today. >> thank you. >> let me walk through a couple of things with you. your notes are obviously exceptionally important because they give a very rapid account of what you wrote down and what you perceived happened in the different meetings. have you had opportunity to reference those notes when preparing the written statement you put forward for us today? >> yes. yes. i think nearly all of my written recordings of the conversations had a chance to review them
before filing my statement. >> do you have a copy of any of those notes personally? >> i don't. i turned them over to bob mueller's investigators. >> the individual you told about, your memos, that then sent on to the new york times, did they have a copy of those memos or were they told orally of those memos? >> had a copy, had a copy at the time. >> do they still have a copy of those memos? >> that's a good question. i think so. i guess i can't say for sure sitting here, but i guess i don't know. but i think so. >> so the question is could you ask them to hand that copy right back to you so you could hand them over to this committee? >> potentially. >> i would like to move that from potential to see if we can ask that question, so we can have a copy of those. obviously those notes are exceptionally important to us to go through the process so we can continue to get to the facts as we see it. as you know, the written documents are exceptionally important. are there other documents we need to be aware of you used in your preparation for your written statement that we should also have that would assist us
in helping with this? >> not that i'm aware of, no. >> past the february the 14th meeting, which is a very important meeting, the conversations here about michael flynn, when the president asked you about he hopes that you would let this go, and the conversation back and forth about being a good guy, after that time, did the president ever bring up anything about michael flynn again to you? you had multiple other conversations, you have documented with the president. >> no, i don't remember him bringing it up again. >> did any member of the white house staff ever come to you and talk to you about letting go of the michael flynn case or dropping it or anything referring to that? >> no, no. >> did the director of national intelligence come to you and talk to you about that? >> no. >> did anyone from the department of justice talk to you about that? >> no. >> did the head of nsa talk to you about that? >> no. >> the key aspect here is, if this seemses to be something the president is trying to get you to drop, it seems like a pretty
light touch to drop it, to bring it up the day after he fired flynn, to come back and in and say i hope we can let this go, but then it never reappears again. did it slow down your investigation or any investigation that may or may not be occurring with michael flynn? >> no, though i don't know whether there were any manifestations of the investigation between february 14th and when i was fired. so i don't know that the president had any way of knowing whether it was effective or not. >> okay. fair enough. if the president wanted to stop an investigation, how would he do that? knowing it is an ongoing criminal investigation, or counterintelligence investigation, would that be a matter of trying to go to you, you perceive, to say you make it stop because he didn't have the authority to stop, or how would the president make an ongoing investigation stop? >> i'm not a legal scholar. so smarter people answer this better, but i think as a legal matter, president is ahead of the executive branch, and could
direct in theory we have important norms against this, but direct that anybody be investigated or anybody not be investigated, i think he has the local authority, of us ultimate the executive branch up to the president. >> would that be to you, to the general? to who he would do that. >> if he wanted to issue a direct order, he could do it through the attorney general or issue it directly to me. >> is there any question that the president is not real fond of this investigation? i can think of multiple 140-word character expressions that he's done publicly to express he's not fond of the investigations. i've heard you share before in this conversation that you're trying to keep the agents that are working on it away from any comment the president might have made. quite frankly, the president is informed around 6 billion people he's not real fond of this investigation. do you think there's a difference in that? >> yes. >> okay. >> there's a big difference in
kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the fbi director in the eye and saying i hope you let this go. i think if agents as good as they are heard the president of the united states did that, there's a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. that's why we kept it so tight. >> okay. you had mentioned before about some news stories and news accounts. without going into all the names and specific times and to be able to dip into all that, have there been news accounts about the russia investigation, about collusion, about this whole event or accusations that as you read the story, you were stunned how wrong they got facts? >> yes, there have been many, many stories purportedly based on classified information about lots of stuff especially about russia that are dead wrong. >> i was interested in your comment that you made, as well that the president said to you, if there were some satellite associates of his that did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. that the president seemed to
talk to you specifically on march 30th and say i'm frustrated that the word is not getting out that i'm not under investigation but if there are people that are in my circle that are, let's finish the investigation. is that how you took it, as well? >> yes. >> you made a comment earlier about the attorney general, previous attorney general, ask you about the investigation on the clinton e-mails saying that you've been asked not to call it an investigation any more but to call it a matter. you said that confused you. give us additional details on that. >> can concerned me because we were at point where we had refused to confirm the existence as we typically do have an investigation for months and it was getting to a place where that looked silly because the campaigns we're talking about interacting with the fbi in the course of our work, the clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security review, matters, things like that for what was going on.
we were getting to a place where the attorney general and i were both going to having to testify and talk publicly about it. i wanted to know would she authorize us to confirm an investigation. she said yes, bow don't call it that. call it a matter. i said why would i do that? she said just call it a matter. again, you look back in behind sight, you think should i have resisted harder? i said is this a hill worth dying on? so i just said okay, the press is going to completely ignore it and that's what happened when i said we have opened a matter. they all reported the investigation has an investigation open. that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the fbi's work. and that is concerning. >> it gave the impression that the campaign was somehow uing the same language of the fbi because you were handed the campaign language and told to be able to use the campaign. >> i don't know whether it was intentional or not but gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the
way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity which was inaccurate. we had a criminal investigation open as i said before, the federal bureau of investigation. we had an investigation open at the time and so that gave me a queasy feeling. >> thank you. >> senator manks. >> thank you, mr. comey. i appreciate you being here. west virginia is very interested in this hearing that we're having today. i've had over 600 requests for questions to ask you from my fellow west virginians. most of them have been asked. there's quite a few that were quite detailed we'll ask in our classified hearing. i want to thank you first of all for coming and agreeing to be here volunteer. but mrs. volunteer to stay into the classified hearing. i don't know if you had a chance to watch our hearing yesterday. >> i watched part of it, yes, sir. >> it was quite troubling. my colleagues here had some very pointed questions they wanted answers to. they weren't classified. they could have happened in an open setting. they refused to do so.
that makes us much more appreciative of your cooperation. sir, the seriousness of the russian aggressions in our past elections and knowing that it will be ongoing as senator king had alluded to, what's your concerns there? what should the american public understand? people said, why are we worried about this? why make this a big deal this russia investigation. tell me what your thoughts would be. >> yes, sir. >> the final thing is on this same topic did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity what the russians were doing? >> thank you, senator. as i said earlier, i don't remember any conversations with the president about the russia election interference. >> did he ever ask you any questions concerning this? >> there was an initial briefing of our findings and i think there was conversation there. yore it exactly where he asked questions what we had found and what our sources were and our confidence level was. the reason this is such a big deal is we have this big messy
wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time but nobody tells us what to think what, to fight about, what to vote for except other americans. and that's wonderful and often painful. but we're talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. that is a big deal. and people need to recognize it. it's not about republicans or democrats. they're coming after america which i hope we all love equally. they want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. they think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. so they're going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. that's what this is about. they will be back because we remain as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill and they don't like it. >> this is extremely important. it's extremely dangerous what we're dealing with and it's needed is what you're saying.
> yes, sir. >> do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversations with the president? >> it never occurred to me till the president's tweet. i hope there are. i'll consent to the release of had em. >> both of you are in the same findings here. you both hope there's tapes and recordings. >> well, i'm, all i can do is hope. the president surely knows whether he taped me, and if he did, my feelings aren't hurt. release all the tapes. i'm good with it. >> got you. sir, do you believe that robert mueller, our new special investigator, on russia will be thorough and complete without political intervention and would you be confident on his findings and recommendations? >> yes, bob mueller is one of the finalist people and public servants this country has ever produced. he will do it well. he is a dogged tough person. you can have high confidence when it's done he's turned over all the rocks. >> you've been asked a wide variety of questions today. we're going to be hearing more i'm sure in our classified
hearing. something i often ask folks when they come here, what details of this saga should we be focusing on and what would you recommend us do differently? >> or to adjust our perspective on this? >> i don't know. one of the reasons i'm pleased to be here i think this committee has shown the american people although we have two parties and disagree about orrin things, we can work together when it involves the consider interests of the country. i would hope you'll keep doing what you're doing. it's a model especially for kids that we are a functioning adult democracy. >> and you also mentioned you had i think what, six meetings, three times in person, six on the phone, nine times in conversation with the president. did he ever at that time allude that you were not performing adequately? ever indicate that at all. >> in fact, the contrary quite often. >> yeah, he called me one day. i was about to get op a helicopter, the head of the dea
was waiting in the helicopter for me. he just called to check in and tell me i was doing an awesome job and wanted to see how i was doing. i said i'm doing fine, sir. then i finished the call and got on the helicopter. >> mr. comey, do you believe you would have been fired if hillary clinton had become president? >> that's a great question. i don't know. i don't know. >> do you have any thoughts about it. >> i might have been. i don't know. look, i've said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. i think i did what i had to do. i knew it was going to be very bad for me personally and the consequence of that might be if she was elected i might have been interpreted. i don't know, i really don't. >> my final question will be after february 14th meeting in the oval office, you mentioned you asked attorney general sessions to ensure that you were never left alone with the president. did you ever consider why attorney general sessions was
not asked to stay in the room? >> oh, sure. i did. and have. and in that moment. >> did you ever talk to him about it? >> no. >> you never had a discussion with jeff sessions on this? >> no, not at all. >> on any of your meetings? >> no. >> did he inquire? did he show any inquiry whatsoever what was that meeting about? >> no. you're right. i did say to him, i'd forgotten this, when i talked to him and said, you have to be between me and the president, and that's incredibly important. i forget my exact words. i passed along the president's he message about the importance of pursuing leaks of information which is a goal i share. i passed that along to the attorney general i think the next morning in a meeting but did not tell him about the flynn part. >> do you believe this will rise to the obstruction of justice? >> i don't know. that's bob mueller's job to sort that out. >> thank you, sir.
>> mr. chairman. >> senator cotton. >> mr. comey, you encouraged the president to release the tapes. will you encourage the department of justice or your friend at columbia or mr. mueller to release your memos? >> sure. >> you said that you did not record your conversations with president obama or president bush in memos. did you do so with attorney general sessions or any other senior member of the trump department of justice? >> no, i think it -- i'm sorry. >> did you record conversations and memos with attorney general lynch or any other senior member of the obama department of justice? >> no, not that i recall, had you. >> you in your statement for the record, you cite nine private conversations with the president, three meetings and two phone calls. there were phone calls that are not discussed in your statement for the record. what happened in those phone
calls? >> president called me, i believe, shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation on january 6th. he just wanted to reiterate his rejection of the allegation and talk about he had thought about it more and why he thought it wasn't true, the verified unverified and salacious parts and during that call, he asked me again, hope you're going to stay. you're doing a great job. and i told him that i intended to. there was forecall that i mentioned, i think -- could have the date wrong, march 1st where he called just to collect in with me as i was about to get on the helicopter. there was a secure call we had about an operational matter that was not related to any of this. about something the fbi was working on. he wanted to make sure that i understood how important he thought it was totally appropriate call. and then the fourth call
probably forgetting. may have -- i may have meant the call when he called to invite me to dinner. i'll think about it as i'm answering other questions. i think i got that right. >> the let's turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here, russia hacking into the e-mails and the allegations of collusion and releasing them. do you believe donald trump colluded with russia? >> that's a question i don't think i should answer in an open setting. as i said, when i left, we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. but that's a question that will be answered by the investigation i think. >> let me turn to a couple statements by one of my colleagues, senator feinstein was the ranking member on this committee till jsh which means she had access to information only she and chairman bird did. she's now the. >> reporter: democrat on the judiciary committee. on may 3rd, on cnn's wolf blitzer show she was asked do you have evidence there was in fact collusion between trump
associates and russian. she answered not at this time. mr. blitzer said the last time we spoke, i asked if you had seen evidence of collusion between trump and the russians. you said not at this time. has anything changed since we last spoke? senator feinstein said no, no, it hasn't. do you have any reason to doubt those statements? >> i don't doubt that senator feinstein was saying what she understood. i don't want to the go down that path because i'm not in the government anymore and answering in the negative, i just worry leads me deeper and deep near talking about the investigation neg an open setting. i want to be -- i'm always trying to be unfair. i'm not trying to suggest by my answer something nefarious but i don't want say not as to this person or that person. >> on february 14th, "the new york times" published a story the headline was trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with russian intelligence. you were asked earlier if that was an inaccurate story and you
said in the main, would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong? >> yes. >> did you have at the time that story was published any indication of any contact between trump people and russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the russian government? >> that's one i can't answer sitting here. >> we can discuss that in a classified setting then. i want attention now to mr. flynn and the allegations of his conduct to be specifics his aged interactions with the russian ambassador on the telephone and what he said to senior trump administration officials and department of justice officials. i understand there are other issues with mr. flynn related to his repeat of foreign monies or potential of advocacy activity on behalf of foreign governments. those are allegations i'm sure will be pursued. i want to speak about his interactions with the russian
ambassador. there was a story january 23rd in the "washington post" that says fbi reviewed flynn's calls with russian ambassador but found nothing illicit. is this story accurate? >> i don't want to comment on that, senator, because i'm pretty sure the bureau has not confirmeded any interception of communications. so i don't want to talk about that in an open setting. > would it be improper for and i coming national security adviser to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador? >> in my experience, no. >> but you can't confirm or deny that the conversation happened and we would need to know the contents of that conversation to know if it was in fact improper? >> i don't think i can talk about that in an open setting. i've been out of government a month. i don't want to talk about things when it's now somebody else's responsibility. baby had in the classified setting, we can talk more about that. >> you stated earlier that there wasn't an open investigation of mr. flynn in the fbi?
did you or any fbi agent ever sense that mr. flynn attempted to deceive you or made false statements to an fbi agent? >> i don't want to go too far. that was the subject of the criminal inquiry. did you ever come close to closing the investigation on mr. flynn? >> i don't think i can talk about that in open setting either. >> i can discuss these more in the closed setting then. mr. comey, in 2004, you were a part of a well publicized event about an intelligence program that had been recertified several times and you were acting attorney general when attorney general john ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. there was a dramatic showdown at the hospital here. the next day, you said that you wrote a letter of resignation and signed before you went to meet with president bush to
explain why you refused to certify it. is that accurate. >> yes, i think so. >> at any time in the 3 1/2 months you were the fbi director during the bush administration, did you ever write and sign a letter of recommendation and leave it on your desk. >> letter of resignation, no, sir. >> letter of resignation. >> no, sir. >> despite all the things you've testified to here today, you didn't feel this rose to the level of an honest but serious difference of legal opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyers in that 2004 episode? >> i wouldn't characterize the circumstances that way. but the answer, no, i didn't encounter any circumstance that led me to intend to resign, consider to resign. no, sir. >> thank you. >> senator harris. >> director comey, i want to thank you. you are now a private citizen and you are enduring a senate intelligence committee hearing, and each of us get seven minutes instead of five as yesterday to ask you questions. so thank you.
>> i'm between opportunities now. >> you are -- i'm sure you'll have future opportunities. you and i are both former prosecutors. not going to require to you answer. i just want to make a statement that in my experience of prs acuting cases when a robber held a gun to somebody's head and said i hope you will give me your wallet, the word hope was not the most operative word at that moment but you don't have to respond to that point. i have a series of questions to ask you, and they're going to start with, are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and russian officials during the campaign that have not been acknowledged by those officials in the white house? >> that's not even if i remember clearly, that's not a question i can answer in an open setting. > are you aware of any efforts by trump campaign officials or associates of the campaign to hide their communications with
russian officials through encrypted communications or other means? >> i have to give you the same answer, senator. >> sure. in the course of the fbi's investigation, did you ever come across anything that suggested that communications records, documents, or other evidence had been destroyed? >> i think i got to give you the same answer. it would touch on investigative matters. >> are you aware of any efforts or potential efforts to conceal communications between campaign officials and russian officials? >> i think i have to give you the same answer, senator. >> thank you. as a former attorney general, i have a series of questions about your connection with the attorney general during the course of your tenure as director. what is your understanding of the parameters of general sessions' recusal from the russia investigation? >> i think it's described in a written release or statement from d.o.j. which i don't remember sitting here. the gist was he would be recused from all matters receipting to russia and the campaign or activities of russia and the '16
election, something like that. >> is it your knowledge of the extent of his recusal based on the public statements he's made in. >> correct. >> was there any kind of memorandum issued from the attorney general or the department of justice to the fbi outlining the parameters of his recusal? >> not that i'm aware of. >> and do you know if he reviewed any fbi or d.o.j. documents pertaining to the investigation before he was recused? >> i don't know. >> after he was recused, i'm assuming it's the same answer. >> same answer. >> and as aside from any notice or memorandum that was not sent or was, what mechanism or processes were in place to ensure that the attorney general would not have any connection with the investigation to your knowledge? >> i don't know for sure. i know that he had consulted with career ethics officials that know how to run a recusal at doj. i don't know what mechanism they set up. >> and the attorney general recused himself from the investigation, but do you believe it was appropriate for him to be involved in the firing of the chief investigator of
that case, of the russia interference? >> that's something i can't answer sitting here. it's a reasonable question but that would depend on a lot of things i don't know like what did he know, what was he told, did he realize that the president was doing it because of the russia investigation, things like that. i don't know the answer. >> you have mentioned in your written testimony in here that the president essentially asked you for a loyalty pledge. are you aware of him making the same question of any other members of the cabinet. >> i am not. >> do you know one way or another. >> i've never heard anything about it. >> and you mentioned that on you had the conversation where you hoped that you would let the flynn matter go on february 14th. or thereabouts. it's my understanding that mr. sessions was recused from any involvement in the investigation about a full two weeks later. to your knowledge this was the attorney general, did he have access to information about the
investigation in those interim two weeks? >> i don't -- in theory, sure because he's the attorney general. i don't know whether he had any contact with any materials related to that. >> to your knowledge, was there any directive he should not have any contact with any information about the russian investigation between the february 14th date and the day he was ultimately recused or recused himself on march 2nd? >> not to my knowledge. i don't know one way or another. >> and did you speak to the attorney general about the russia investigation before his recusal? >> i don't think so, no. >> do you know if anyone in the department in the fbi forwarded any documents or information or memos of any sort to the attention of the attorney general before his recusal? >> i don't know of any or remember any sitting here. it's possible, but i don't remember any. >> do you know if the attorney general was involved in fact, involved in any aspect of the russia investigation after his recusal on the 2nd of march?
>> i don't. i would assume not but let me say it this way. i don't know of any information that would lead me to believe he did something to touch the russia investigation after the recusal. >> in your written testimony, you indicate that you, after you were left alone with the president, you mentioned that it was inappropriate and should never had happen again to the attorney general. and apparently, he did not reply and you write that he did not reply. what did he do? if anything. did he just look at you? was there a pause for a moment? what happened? >> i don't remember real clearly. i have a recollection of him just kind of looking me and there's a danger here i'm projecting on to him. this may be a faulty memory. but his body language gave me the sense what am i going to do. >> did he shrug? >> yore clearly. have i some recollection of almost imper settable like what am i going to do, but i don't
have a clearrection of that. he didn't say anything. >> and on that same february 14th meeting, you said you understood the president to be requesting that you drop the investigation. after that meeting, however, you received two calls from the president, march 30th and april 11th where the president talked about a cloud over his presidency. has anything you've learned in the months since your february 14th meeting changed your understanding of the president's request? i guess it would be what he has said in public documents or public interviews. >> correct. >> okay. >> and is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or is not being informed by a process of seeking the truth? >> no. the appointment of a special counsel should offer especially given who that person is, great comfort to americans no matter what your political affiliation is that this will be done
independently competently and honestly. >> do you believe that he should have full authority, mr. mueller, to be able to pursue that investigation? >> yes, and knowing him well, over the years, if there's something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it. >> do you believe he should have full independence. >> oh, yeah. and he wouldn't be part of it if he wasn't going to get full independence. >> thank you. senator cornyn. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, i'll repeat what i've said at previous hearings that i believe you're a good and decent man who has been dealt a very difficult hand starting back with the clinton e-mail investigation. and i appreciate your willingness to appear here today voluntarily and answer our questions and cooperate with our investigation. as a general matter, if an fbi agent has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, do they have a duty to report it? >> that's a good question. i don't know that there's a legal duty to report it.
they certainly have a cultural ethical duty to report it. >> you're unsure whether they would have a legal duty? >> yeah, that's a good question. i don't know where the legal -- there's a statute that prohibits mispersian of a felony nothing of a felony and taking steps to conceal it, but this is a different question. so look, let me be clear. i would expect any fbi agent who has information about a crime being committed to report it. >> me. >> but where you rest that obligation, i don't know. it exists. >> as a general proposition, if you're trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an fbi director a good way to make that happen? by that i mean. >> it doesn't make a lot of accepts to me but i'm hopelessly biased given that i was the one fired. >> i understand. it's personal. >> no, given the nature of the fbi, i meant what i said. there's no indispensable people
at the world including at the fbi. there's lots of bad things about me being at the fbi. most of them are for me but the work will go on before. >> nothing you have teched to today has impeded the direction of the fbi or director mueller's commitment to get to the bottom of this from the standpoint of the fbi and the department of justice. would you agree with that. >> correct. especially the appointment of director mueller is a critical part of that investigation. >> let me take you back to the clinton e-mail investigation. you've been cast as a hero or a villain depending on the -- whose political ox is being gored. at many different times during the course of the clinton e-mail investigation and even now perhaps. but you clearly were troubled by the conduct of the sitting attorney general, loretta link when it came to the clinton e-mail investigation. you mention the characterization that you had been asked to
accept that this was a matter and not a criminal investigation, which you said it was. there was the matter of president clinton's meeting on the tarmac with the sitting attorney general at a time when his wife was a subject to a criminal investigation and you suggested that perhaps there are other matters that you may be able to share with us later on in a classified setting. but it seems to me that you clearly believe that loretta lynch, the attorney general, had an appearance of a conflict of interest on the clinton e-mail investigation. is that correct. >> i think that's fair. i didn't believe she could credibly decline that investigation. at least not without grievous damage to the department of justice and to the fbi. >> and under department of justice and fbi norms, wouldn't it have been appropriate for the attorney general or if she had recused herself which she did not do for the deputy attorney general to appoint a special counsel that's essentially
what's happened now with director mueller. would that have been an appropriate step in the clinton e-mail investigation, in your opinion. >> certainly a possible step, yes, sir. >> were you aware that ms. lynch had been requested numerous times to appoint a special counsel and refused? >> yes, from i think congress had -- members of congress had repeatedly asked, yes, sir. >> yours truly did on multiple occasions. and that heightened your concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest with the department of justice which caused you to make what you have described as an incredibly painful decision it basically take the matter up yourself and led to that july press conference? >> yes, sir. after the president clinton, former president clinton met on the plane with the attorney general, i considered whether i should call for the appointment of a special counsel. and had decided that would be an unfair thing to do because i knew there was no case there.
we had investigated very, very thoroughly. this was a subject of passionate disagreement but i knew there was no case there and calling for the appointment of a special counsel would be brutally unfair because this would send the message, aha, there's something here. that was my judgment. that's how i thought about it. >> if a special counsel had been appointed they could have made that determination that there was nothing there and declined to pursue it, right? >> sure, but it would have been many months later 0 are a year later. >> let me just ask you to, given the experience of the clinton e-mail investigation and what happened there, do you think it's unreasonable for anyone, any president who has been assured on multiple occasions that he's not the subject of an fbi investigation, do you think it's unreasonable for them to
want the fbi director to publicly announce that so that this cloud over his administration would be removed? >> i think that's a reasonable point of view. the concern would be obviously, because that boomerang comes back, it's going to be a very big deal because it will be a duty to correct. >> we saw that in the clinton e-mail investigation, or course. >> yes, i recall that. >> i know you do. so let me ask you finally in the minute that we left, there was this conversation back and forth about loyalty. i think we all appreciate the fact an fbi director is a unique public official in the sense that he's a political appointee in one sense but he has a duty of independence to pursue the law pursuant to the -- the constitutional laws of the united states. and so when the president asked you about loyalty, you got in this back and forth about well, i'll pledge you my honesty. and then it looks like from what
i've read you agreed upon honest loyalty or something like that. is that the characterization? >> yes. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, sir. >> senator reed. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director comey. there have been press reports that the president in addition to asking you to drop the flynn investigation, has asked other senior intelligence officials to take steps which would tend to undermine the investigation into russia. there's been reports that he's asked dna coats and admiral rogers to make public statements exonerating him or taking the pressure off him. and also reports about admiral rogers and director pompeo to intervene and reach out to the fbi and ask them. are you aware of any of these or do you have any information with
respect to any of these allegations? >> i don't. i'm aware of the public reporting, but i had no contact, no conversation with any of those leaders about that subject. >> thank you. you have testified that you interpret it the discussion with the president about flynn as a direction to stop the investigation. is that correct. >> yes. >> you have testified that the president asked you to lift the cloud by essentially making public statements exonerating him and perhaps others. you refused, correct? >> i didn't -- i didn't do it. i didn't refuse. the president. i told him we would see what we could do. second time he called i told him in substance, that's something your lawyer will have to take up with the justice department. >> and part of the underlying logic was we've discussed many times throughout this morning, is the duty to correct. that is one of -- a theoretical
issue but also very practical issue. was there, your feeling that the direction of the investigation cog in fact include the president? >> well, in theory. i mean as i explained the concern of one of my senior leader colleagues was if you're looking at potential coordination between the campaign and russia, the person at the head of the campaign is the candidate. solange i cannily, this person argued, the candidate's knowledge understanding would logically become part of your inquiry if it proceeds. i understood that argument. my view was that what i said to the president was accurate and fair and fair to him. i resisted the idea of publicly saying it. although if the justice department had wanted to, i would have done it because of the duty to correct and the slippery slope problem. >> and again, also, you've testified that the president asked you repeatedly to be loyal
to him and you responded you would be honestly loyal, which is i think your way of saying i'll be honest and i'll be the head of the fbi and independent. is that fair? >> correct. i tried honest first. also, i mean, you see it in my testimony. also tried to explain to him why it's in his interest and every president's interest for the fbi to be apart in a way because its credibility is important to a president and to the country. and so i tried to hold the line, hold the line. it got very awkward. i then said you'll always have honesty from me. he said honest loyalty. i acceded to that as a way to end this automatic wafrdness. >> you were summarily fired without any explanation or anything else. >> there was an explanation. i just don't buy it. >> well, yes. so you're fired. do you believe that you were fired because you refused to take the president's direction?
is that the ultimate reason? >> i don't know for sure. i know i was fired. again, take the president's words. i know i was fired because of something about the way i was conducting the russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him in some way irritating him and he decided to fire me because of that. i can't go farther than that. >> it the russia investigation as you have pointed out and as all my colleagues have reflected is one of the most serious hostile acts against this country in our history. undermining the very core of our democracy in our elections is not a discrete event. it will likely occur. it's probably being prepared now for '18 and '20 and beyond. and yet, the president of the united states fires you because in your own words, some relation to this investigation. and then he shows up in. the oval office with the russian foreign minister first after classifying you as crazy and a real nutjob, which i think
you've effectively disproved this morning. he said i face great pressure because of russia. that's taken off. your conclusion would be that the president, i would think, is downplaying the seriousness of this threat, in fact, took specific steps to stop a thorough investigation of the russian influence and also from what you've said or what was said this morning, doesn't seem particularly interested in these hostile threats by the russians. is that fair? >> i don't know that i can agree to that level of key tail. because no doubt, that it's a fair judgment. it's my judgment that i was fired because of the russia investigation. i was fired in some way to change or the endeavor was to change the way the russia investigation was being conducted. that is a very big deal. not just because it involves me.
the nature of the fbi and the nature of its work requires that it not be the subject of political consideration. and on top of that, you have the russia investigation itself is vital because of the threat and i know i should have said this earlier. it's obvious. if any americans were part of helping the russians do that to us, that is a very big deal. and i'm confident that if that is the case, director mueller will find that evidence. >> finally, the president tweeted that james comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leak together press. was that a rather unsubtle attempt to intimidate you from testifying intimidate anyone else who seriously crosses his path of not doing it? >> i'm not going to sit here and try to interpret the president's tweets. to me, its major impact occurred to me in the middle of the night, holy cow, there might be
tapes. if there are tapes, it's not just my worth against his on the direction to get rid of the flynn investigation. >> thank you very much. >> senator mccain. in the case of hillary clinton, you made the statement that there wasn't sufficient evidence to bring a suit against her although it had been very careless in their behavior. but you did reach a conclusion in that case that it was not necessary to further pursue her. yet, at the same time, in the case of mr. copy, you said that there was not enough information to make a conclusion. tell me the difference between
your conclusion as far as former secretary clinton is concerned and mr. trump. >> well, the clinton investigation was a completed investigation that the fbi had been deeply involved in. so had i an opportunity to understand all the facts and apply those facts against the laws as i understood them. this investigation was under way still going when i was fired. so it's nowhere near in the same place, at least it wasn't when i was -- >> but it's still ongoing. >> correct. so pfaff as i know. it was when i left. >> that investigation was going on. this investigation is going on. you reach separate conclusions. >> no that one was done. >> that investigation of any involvement of secretary clinton or any of her associates is completed? >> yes, as of july 5th, the fbi completed its investigative work and that's what i was announcing
what we had done and what we had found. >> well, at least in the minds of this member, there's a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on particularly considering the fact that as you mentioned, as the a "big deal" as to what went on during the campaign. so i'm glad you concluded that part of the investigation, but i -- i think that the american people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly since you just emphasized the role that russia played. and obviously, she was a candidate for president at the time. so she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news, as you just described it, big deal took place. you're going to have to help me out here. in other words, we're complete the investigation of anything
that former secretary clinton had to do with a campaign is over and we don't have to worry about it anymore? slufging. > with respect to -- i'm a little confused. with respect to secretary clinton, we investigated criminal investigation in connection with her use of a personal e-mail server. >> i understand. >> that's the investigation i announced the conclusion of on july 5th. >> so but at the same time, you made the announcement there would be no charges brought against then secretary clinton for any activities involved in the russia involvement in our engagement in our election. i don't quite understand how you could be done with that but not done with the whole investigation of their attempt to affect the outcome of the our election. >> no, i'm sorry. we're not at least when i left when i was fired on may 9th, there was still an open investigation to understand the russian efforts and whether any americans worked with them. >> but you reached the
conclusion there was no reason to bring charges against secretary clinton so you reached a conclusion in the case of mr. comey, the president -- >> no, sir. >> in the case of president trump, you have an ongoing investigation. so you got one candidate who you're done with and another candidate that you have a long way to go. is that correct? >> i don't know how far the fbi has to go, but yes. that the clinton e-mail investigation was completed. the investigation of russia's efforts in connection with the election and whether there was any coordination and if so with whom between russia and the campaign was ongoing when i left. >> you just made it clear this was a big deal, unquote. i think it's hard to reconcile one case you reach a complete conclusion and the other side you have not. and you've in fact, obviously,
there's a lot more there as we know as you called a "big deal." she's one of the candidates but in her case, you say, there would be no charges and in the case of president trump, the investigation continues. what has been brought out in this hearing is more and more emphasis on the russian engagement and involvement in this campaign. how serious do you think this was? >> very serious. but i want to say something to be clear. we have not announced and there was no predation to announce an investigation of whether the russians may have coordinated with secretary clinton's campaign. secretary clinton's campaign. >> but they may not have been involved with her campaign. they were involved with the entire presidential campaign, obviously. >> of course. yes, sir. and that is an investigation that began last summer and so far as i'm aware continues.
>> so both president trump and former candidate clinton are both involved in the investigation, yet one of them you said there's going to be no charges and the other one that the investigation continues. well, i think there's a double standard there to tell you the truth. then when the president said to you, you talked about the april 11th phone call, and he said quote because i've been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know. did that arouse your curiosity as to quote that thing was? >> yes. >> why didn't you ask him. >> it didn't seem to be to be important for the conversation we were having to understand it. i took it to be some -- an effort to communicate to me in that there is a relationship between us where i've been good to you, you should be good to me. >> yeah, but i think it would intensely an rouse my curiosity if the president of the united states said that thing, you
know. i'd like to know what the hell that thing is particularly if i'm the heof the fbi. >> what i concluded at the time is that in his memory he was searching back to our encounter at the dinner and was preparing himself to say i offered loyalty to you. you promised loyalty to me and all of a sudden his memory showed him that did not happen and i think he pulled up short. that's just a guess. i have had a lot of conversations with humess over the years. >> i think i would have had some curiosity if it had been me, to be honest with you. >> are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that the president or the members of the administration or members of the campaign col potentially be used to coerce or blackmail the administration? >> that's a subject for investigations, not something i can comment on sitting here. >> but you reached that conclusion as far as secretary
clinton was concerned but you're not reaching a conclusion as far as this administration is concerned? are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that information exists that could coerce members of the administration or blackmail the administration? >> that's not a question i can answer, senator. >> the senator's time has expired. >> thank you. >> all time has expired for the hearing. can i say for members, we'll reconvene promptly at 1:00 p.m. in the hearing room. we have a vote scheduled for 1:45. i would suggest that all members promptly be there at 1:00. we have about three minutes. i'd like to have order. photographers, photographers, return to where you were. please. this hearing is not adjourned
yet. either that or we'll remove you. so members, we have about three minutes of updates that we would love to cover as soon as we get into the closed session before we have an opportunity to spend some time with director comey. based on our agreement, it would be my intentions to adjourn that closed hearing between 2:00 and 2:10 so that members can go vote. i would urge you to eat at that time. jim, several of us on this committee have had the opportunity to work with you since you walked in the door. i want to say personally on behalf of all the committee members, we're grateful to you for your service to your country. not just in the capacity as fbi director, but as prosecutor and more importantly had, being somebody that loves this country enough to tell it like it is. i want to say to your workforce, that we're grateful to them with the level of cooperation that they have shown us.
with the trust we've built between both organizations, the congress and the bureau. we couldn't do our job if it wasn't for their willingness to share candidly with us the work that we need to see. this hearing is the ninth public hearing this committee has had this year. that is twice the historical year long average of this committee. i think the vice chairman and my's biggest challenge when this investigation has concluded is to return our hearings to the secrecy of a closed hearing to encourage our members not to freely talk about intelligence matters, publicly, and to respect the fact that we have a huge job. and that's to represent the entire body of the united states senate and the american people. to make sure that we work with
the intelligence community to provide you the tools to keep america safe and that you do it within the legal limit or those limits set by the executive branch. we could not do it if it wasn't for trusted partnership that you have been able to lead and others before you. so as we depart from this, this is a pivotal hearing in our investigation. we're grateful to you for the professionalism you've shown and your willingness. i will turn to the vice chairman. >> i simply want to echo one, again, the thanks for your appearance and there clearly still remain a number of quis. and the one thing i want to commit to you and more importantly i think, mr. chair, i want to commit to all those still potentially watching and following, there's still a lot of unanswered questions. we're going to get to the bottom of this. the american people deserve to know. there's the questions around
implications of trump officials and the russians but also the hack crow issue of what the russians did and continue to do. and i think it is very important that all americans realize that threat is real. it is continuous. it is not just towards our nation. it is all towards all western democracies and we have to come to a solution. thank you, mr. chairman. >> director comey, thank you once again on behalf of the committee. this hearing is adjourned.
>> the hearing with former fbi director james comey wrapping up. we're going to get your reaction shortly here on c-span3 and c-span radio. live now to comments from committee member marco rubio. >> and so the question is whether something he said, shouldn't have said or was it something part of a broader effort to impede an investigation. that is the fundamental question that people are seeking to answer. today's testimony is a piece of a broader puzzle. we still have not heard directly from admiral rogers or director coats about what the president asked of them. until that happens and other information is forthcoming. again, those issues are going towards what's probably more in
the purview of the judiciary committee and or mueller. that our focus is on obviously the case of director comey. how this impacted couper intelligence function. >> your posture in this hearing was distinctly different than your posturing yesterday towards the other two witnesses. what explains that? >> the witnesses yesterday weren't answering questions. director comey was. he had already written a statement that answered a lot of questions. there's no point in me asking questions that they had already asked. yesterday we couldn't get an answer on a fundamental questions. they said yesterday they had not (beshed but they would not answer. director comey didn't hold back on anything other thannings that were classified. i wanted to focus in on what we're talking about here. three things, he asked for loyalty. others focused on that. he asked that the public be made aware that he was not under investigation and my point on
that is that what director comey did today otherwise. he had asked that the investigation with flynn be brought. and he asked that one time. and so those are the three things we're talking about. i thought it's fair to point out the president at no time asked the director to stop the broader investigation of the russian interference. again that, came from director comey's testimony. so we don't go into these things looking to be antagonistic but if the answers are being answered, what draws the most antagonism here is when they don't answer the questions. director comey was incredibly forthcoming including giving his own opinion and own views on certain matters beyond simply the facts. >> reporter: you didn't feel like you heard any clear evidence of obstruction? >> that's a legal determination to be made by prosecutors, not by the intelligence committee. our focus is we want to hear from the chief officer in charge of counter intelligence on how the president conducted himself on perhaps the biggest counter
intelligence before america today. and i don't think anybody would leave this hearing and say to you what the president said in the oval office on the 14th of february was appropriate. whether it rises to criminality, you know, i think there's significant doubts whether it rises to that level. my hope is that there are people in the white house that have advised the president about what's appropriate and what isn't when you're interacting with the fbi. for the reasons that director comey outlined. it's not clear why that didn't happen sooner. >> what's your feeling at this point? do you believe it does rise to criminality. >> i'm not prepared to reach a conclusion because we're not done with all the pieces that are missing. we need to hear what admiral rogers and director coats have to say. they didn't answer the questions yesterday. and they didn't have the closed hearing and didn't come to the closed hear afterward. >> reporter: what did you make of comey admitting he initiated. >> i'm surprised. the idea not just that he initiated the leaks on the memos but for purposes of triggering a
special prosecutor i thought was perhaps the most explosive portion of the hearing. i was quite frankly impressed by his honesty. that's the first time i've seen a witness come before congress and admit they leaked something to get it to the press. i don't know what to make of it other than the fact he wanted there to be a special prosecutor because he's upset he's fired. i'm not sure that's inappropriate or not. if he's leaked to a friend to give it to the president, there's no reason the committee should not have those memos. >> >> reporter: mccain said there was a double standard perhaps between the way director comey treated then candidate hillary clinton versus the president trump. do you agree there is a double standard in the way that he treated them. >> i didn't follow that line of questioning very well to be honest with you. no matter how one may feel about the e-mail investigation, i still question how the e-mails were handled. that was an active investigation
that was opened, conducted an closed. this is an ongoing investigation. it just started. and so i think they're different. and we'll have to wait and see that. i don't have any concerns about the way it's being investigated. everything we have seen shows that the broader issue of the russian interference and whatever issues spin off from that will all be fully investigated. that's what the american people want. >> what do you specifically hope to hear in the closed session. >> there are parts of that we can't discuss. i'm curious to see which parts of his recollection with regards to this involve matters that is classified versus confidential. i don't think there is a protection for confidential issues what was so disturbing yesterday by director coats and rogers. two people i like very much. just because you think something should be confidential doesn't mean you don't have a right to share it with the investigative mm